Editor's Note: This article was originally published on The LDS Parent's Toolshop. It has been republished here, with permission.
Your children are bombarded every day by messages that influence how they feel about themselves. This influences their self-esteem — how they feel about their internal qualities or who they are.
Your children’s self-esteem is fragile, and it can be crushed with negative messages or boosted with positive messages. As a parent, you have the biggest influence on your children’s self-esteem. Whether negative or positive, it's your choice.
Here are four magical compliments that will boost your children’s self-esteem in a positive, healthy way.
“You are courageous”
When your children show courage, take a few seconds to tell them. Your children try new things and learn new skills every day that require courage. Say “You showed courage when you…” Or, “You are courageous when you…” Here are examples of when your children show courage that you can point out:
- Starting a new class
- Trying a new sport
- Performing in a recital
- Standing up to bullies or peers
- Feeling scared and working through it
Encourage your children to be courageous. When they are unsure of themselves, remind them that they showed courage in the past and can do it again. When you point out that your children showed courage, they will feel great about themselves and their positive self-esteem will grow.
“You showed improvement”
Your children probably show improvement every day. Take a few seconds to notice improvements, and point them out by saying, “I saw you improve in…” Here are a few situations in which your children may regularly show improvement:
- Time management
- Personal responsibilities
As you look for improvements, they will become more obvious. Specifically describe the improvement to your child, and watch his or her feelings of self-worth grow right before your eyes.
“You worked hard”
When your children work hard at something, take the time to point it out. Keep in mind that something that's easy for you may not be easy for them. Here are some scenarios where you can say, “I saw you work hard at…”
- Completing a chore
- Finishing a school project
- Learning a new music song
- Receiving a high score in school
- Working through a difficult problem
Your children appreciate when you point out their hard work and feel good about themselves. This encourages them to repeat the hard work in the future.
“You showed self-motivation”
Most parents want their children to be self-motivated, not being told everything they need to do. When your children show self-motivation, take a few seconds to point it out. This helps your children understand what self-motivation means and how it feels to be self-motivated. Here are a few situations to say, “You showed self-motivation when you…”
- Completed homework without a reminder
- Finished a chore all on your own
- Chipped in without being asked
- Studied extra and improved your score
- Took care of your siblings while I was busy
Your children want to feel good about themselves. When you take a few seconds and point out the positive things they are doing in specific, descriptive ways, your children tell themselves, “I feel good about myself and want to do that again.”
When your children have a healthy, positive self-esteem, they feel confident and capable. Isn’t that what all parents want for their children?
Damara Simmons is a parenting coach and educator who currently resides in Bonaire, GA. She co- created LDS Parent’s Toolshop© that teaches easy-to-use, practical parenting skills at http:ldsParentsToolshop.com.